Construction on McGregor Computer Science Center at HMC set to begin next year

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Harvey Mudd College will be building a new computer science building. Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and continue until 2021. (Courtesy of Harvey Mudd Office of College Advancement)

Harvey Mudd College will start constructing the McGregor Computer Science Center, a new computer science building, next year, according to the building brochure on HMC’s website.

The new building will be located at the corner of North Dartmouth Avenue and Platt Boulevard. The project is expected to take 30 months in total, and the construction of the center itself will last up to 18 months, being completed in early 2021, according to the brochure.

A defining feature of the McGregor Computer Science Center will be the building’s orientation away from the central walkway through campus, which distinguishes the new building from the inward orientation of most other Mudd buildings.

This change in design symbolizes a gateway to accelerate the exchange of talent and resources between Mudd and the other 5Cs, the brochure states.

“The designers for the building viewed it very much as a bridge into our campus,” Judy Augsburger, an HMC spokesperson, wrote in an email to TSL. She also noted that the new building will feature a Makerspace, a space with tools and resources for students to work on extra-curricular projects, encouraging students to collaborate.

“We see the Makerspace as an extension of the work going on at The Hive — students and faculty can brainstorm solutions to real-world problems at The Hive, then come to HMC’s Makerspace to prototype and test their solutions,” Augsburger wrote.

The second and third floors of the 36,000-square-foot, three-story building will be dedicated to the college’s rapidly growing computer science department, according to the college’s website.

McGregor will create room to grow from 16-25 faculty positions over time, and will include faculty offices, clinic and project studios, teaching and research laboratories and collaboration spaces, according to HMC’s website. The larger space will bring together previously scattered computer science spaces.

The building will also include a variety of equipment, including a state-of-the-art AV production room, laser cutters, 3D printers, large collaboration and fabrication spaces, paint booth, robotics labs, various computer science teaching labs, and new conference rooms, according to Augsburger.

This new space will be linked with the repositioned Libra Complex, which currently houses engineering machine shops.

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The McGregor Computer Science Center will be the first of Mudd’s buildings to face away from the campus’ central walkway. (Courtesy of Harvey Mudd Office of College Advancement)

The project is estimated to cost $30 million. According to the email sent by Augsburger, the building is being funded through gifts from the Harvey Mudd Board of Trustees, alumni, parents, staff, friends and foundations, as well as through debt financing included in HMC’s long-term operating budget forecast. HMC trustee Laurie J. Girand and her husband Scott A. McGregor gave a gift to the project, thus the building will be in their name.

Aditya Khant HM ’21, a computer science major, said he would like to see several changes in the new building.

“One feature could be more labs, for doing hardware-software based projects, rather than just places with computers like Libra Complex,” which “does occasionally feel weird” because it lacks windows, he wrote in a message to TSL.

Students were involved in the design of the building. The design team set up boards outside the Hoch-Shanahan Dining Commons March 24 for students to vote on which design option they preferred, according to Augsburger. They also gave input on the types of spaces they would use in the conceptual floor plans and what types of equipment they would use in the Makerspace, she wrote.

Administrators hope the new building will meet increasing demands for computer science resources. Each HMC student takes at least one computer science course, and HMC’s entire first-year class takes the introductory computer science course, according to the college’s website.

Augsburger said the new building is a stepping stone in HMC’s overall long-term planning for campus development, as outlined in the college’s amended Master Plan. Under this plan, the school hopes to grow its student body to 900 students while ensuring resources are in place beforehand to support the growth.

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